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Fact Sheet

February 2009

Sampling for Lead, Pittsburg, Kansas


For most of its history, southeastern Kansas was a part of the Tri-State Mining District, including the states of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. For nearly fifty years, this area was the world's richest producer of lead and zinc ores. Historic information shows the first noted smelting of lead and zinc in Pittsburg, Kansas in the early 1880s.

Most of the waste from these smelters was left for future generations to address. Pollution from some former smelting sites has been linked to a high rate of elevated blood-lead levels in children.

Federal and state Superfund programs have tested and analyzed soil and ground water for lead content at other Tri-State Mining District sites, to determine if they pose a risk to human health. When dangerous levels of lead have been detected, federal and state programs have responded by cleaning up residential soil, providing funds for health education and supplying clean drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been asked to evaluate three of the former smelting sites in Pittsburg, Kansas, to determine whether they caused lead pollution in the soil and water.


Sampling will take place on properties that are on or near some of the former lead and zinc smelting sites. EPA samples the soil, smelting or slag material (if it is present), and ground water (if you have a private drinking water well). Residential sampling of soil is only conducted outside the home. The purpose is to determine whether there is lead in the soil and ground water at the home (if ground water is used as a source of drinking water).

A team of two to four staff from EPA and its contractors will conduct the sampling, which usually takes 30 minutes to one hour to complete. About 20 to 30 small spoonfuls of soil would be collected from various areas on your property. If you have a drinking water well, we will collect about one liter of water, preferably from an outside spigot close to the wellhead.

The property owner or resident does not need to be present for the sampling, but if you would like, please contact us and we will arrange to meet you. There is no cost to the property owner or resident for the sampling.


After the samples are analyzed, EPA staff will provide you with an information sheet that will explain what levels of lead, if any, are found and what it means. Generally, it takes five to six weeks for a resident to receive their sampling results. Lead levels exceeding health-based levels of concern generally require the removal of the lead-contaminated soil.

EPA will coordinate with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the City of Pittsburg, Kansas, and the Crawford County Health Department on health-related issues. If contamination is present on a residential property that is due only to lead-based paint, no action will be taken by EPA since EPA is not authorized under the Superfund law to address lead-based paint issues.


In addition to sampling, blood-lead testing for children under 6 years old is recommended. Contact the Crawford County Health Department at 620/231-5411 to get your child tested. Children are more likely to be exposed to lead and are more sensitive to the effects of lead than adults. This exposure may result in lifelong learning disabilities or behavioral problems. Lead can damage the nervous system, kidneys and reproductive system.

You can reduce your child's lead exposure and its effects by:


For more information on lead sampling in Crawford County, please contact the following EPA staff:

Beckie Himes
Community Involvement Coordinator
EPA Region 7
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Telephone:  913-551-7253
Toll-free:  800-223-0425
E-mail: himes.beckie@epa.gov

Todd Campbell
On-Scene Coordinator
EPA Superfund Division
Emergency Response Branch
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Toll-free:  800-223-0425
E-mail: campbell.todd@epa.gov

For information about blood-lead testing, please contact the following offices of the Crawford County Health Department:

Crawford County Health Department
410 East Atkinson Suite A
Pittsburg, Kansas 66762
Telephone:  620-231-5411

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